I'm simultaneously reading Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America and Irving Rouse's The Tainos: Rise and Decline of the People Who Greeted Columbus. I resisted Nickel and Dimed for a couple of years, annoyed by the "duh!" factor of someone doing a study on how hard it is to be poor. Happily, though, I was wrong, finding Ehrenreich's honesty about her project refreshing ("Almost anyone could do what I did... In fact, millions of Americans do it every day, and with a lot less fanfare and dithering.") and that she is a solid writer with an excellent eye for the little details:
But as the days go by, my old life is beginning to look exceedingly strange. The e-mails and phone messages addressed to my former self come from a distant race of people with exotic concerns and far too much time on their hands. The neighborly market I used to cruise for produce now looks forbiddingly like a Manhattan yuppie emporium. And when I sit down one morning in my real home to pay bills from my past life, I am dazzled by the two- and three-figure sums owed to outfits like Club Body Tech and Amazon.com.Not surprisingly, Ehrenreich has endorsed Dennis Kucinich for President and is appearing with him next Friday at the Kaye Playhouse event. I suspect Howard Dean has never read her book. Certainly the majority of his Internet followers haven't. Pity. How do you profess to "Take Back America" when you're so obviously out of touch with the vast majority of Americans? [I know! I know! You assume they don't vote anyway and ignore them.]
Rouse's Tainos is an extremely fascinating book, if at times overly academic. It's exactly what I was hoping for, though, when I started thinking of combining my desire to write a fantasy novel with that of learning more about my long-neglected culture. A lot of interesting tidbits, like the fact that women could serve as caciques and this:
If [Tainos] had been allowed a few centuries of reprieve from Spanish rule they might well have bridged the gap across Guanahatabey territory in western Cuba and developed the kind of commercial linkage that they had already established with the inhabitants of northern South America. This would have made it possible for them to acquire writing, statehood, and other elements of the mainland civilizations, as their fellow islanders, the British and the Japanese, had already done in Europe and Asia.Emphasis is mine but it is a powerful comparison Rouse makes about a people that were virtually eradicted within 20 years of Columbus' bumbling "discovery."
For some reason, I feel like watching Rosewood this weekend. Maybe make it a double feature with Do the Right Thing.
In other news...there is no other news! I'm spent.